A rude awakening
Regardless of the failure of the Cyprus talks, the Buergenstock round marks the end of an era. For three decades, Athens and Nicosia sought to temper (not reverse) the fait accompli set by the Turkish invasion by making an international issue of the Cyprus dispute. In the beginning, this was done mainly through the UN, as the Soviet Union and the Non-Aligned bloc were a counterweight to American hegemony. During the 1990s, Greece naturally put most weight on the EU, an organization that Turkey yearned to join. However, both aspects of our national delusion ended up at the bottom of the steep Alpine valley. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan asked the two sides to sign a colonial-style deal reminiscent of other failed projects in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan. However, the biggest disappointment came from EU Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen. Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash described him as a «Nazi officer» but this did not prevent him from expressing his appreciation of Turkey’s «constructive role» and warning the Greek-Cypriot government against being seen as a «troublemaker.» The recent talks demonstrated once again that the UN is either a US appendage, or not at all. For its part, the EU has entrusted the Cyprus issue with Britain, the once-mighty colonizer of the island. Most importantly, Athens and Nicosia will find it extremely hard to turn to the UN or the EU for a fresh round of negotiations in the future, as pressure is now on the Greek side. Unpleasant? Surely. Irritating? Perhaps. Since Greece and Cyprus can neither change planet nor change the planet, they will have to find a new strategy: one with fewer illusions and more farsightedness than the one displayed during George Papandreou’s zeibekiko dances with Turkish officials and the cost-free triumphalism over Cyprus’s EU accession.